Algae-Based 3D-Printing Feedstock

Bringing algae from pond to production, ALGIX utilizes algae blooms to produce biodegradable 3D-printing feedstock, which requires less energy during the printing process.

ALGIX harvests microalgae blooms to create various products, including 3D filaments and plastic foam. The company removes algae blooms from ponds and lakes without causing harm or disturbance to fish and plant life. The algae are dried and processed before being combined with plastic resins for filament production.

The filament for 3D printing has an algae content of 20%, while the remaining 80% is made from PLA, a nontoxic resin made of lactic acid derived from plant sugars. In 3D printing, using algae-based filament compared to traditional fila- ment requires less energy because algae filament prints at a lower temperature.

Relevance of solution

Harmful algal growth, known as algae blooms, is increasingly prevalent.1 At the same time, the world’s plastic consumption continues to increase; the deployment of 3D printers alone is forecast to exceed 5.6 million units by 2019.2 By creating an algae-infused biodegradable filament for the rapidly growing 3D printing industry, the solution uses the vast potential of algae in the creation of filament without putting stress on the environment.

Triple Bottom Line

Environmental

The solution reduces the environmental impacts of global plastic production, which has increased twenty-fold in a 50-year period, reaching 311 million tons in 2014.3

Social

Together with local volunteers, ALGIX cleans up toxic algae blooms, providing clean waterways and reestablishing sustainable fisheries, where the company operates.

Economic

The market for thermoplastic filament is expected to reach over $1 billion by 2025, despite the falling price per kg.4


Sources

  1. US EPA. “Climate Change and Harmful Algal Blooms.” (2016)
  2. Gartner. “Forecast: 3D Printers,Worldwide.” (2015)
  3. World Economic Forum. “The New Plastics Economy”. (2016)
  4. IDTechEx. ”3D Printing Materials 2015-2025: Status, Opportunities, Market Forecasts”. (2015)